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Monmouth College community mourns passing of legendary Fighting Scots coach Bill Reichow

Bill Reichow, one of the winningest Monmouth College coaches of all time in three different sports, died Jan. 7 at the age of 94.

Reichow led the men's golf team to four Midwest Conference titles and coached the Fighting Scots wrestling team to new heights.

But it was on the gridiron where he achieved legendary status, turning around a struggling program and making it, for a glorious decade, one of the best small-college football teams in the nation, including a 1972 squad that went 9-0, Monmouth's last football team to finish without a loss.

Reichow was inducted into the College's M Club Hall of Fame in 1993.

"His Monmouth teams were tough, like him," reads a St. Olaf College account of the famous Scots-Oles rivalry.

Reichow came to Monmouth in 1965 from Albia, Iowa, where he coached high school football. Prior to that, two of his major formative experiences were playing quarterback and tackle at the University of Iowa for coach Forest Evashevski and serving as an Army paratrooper for three years during the Korean War.

"People said Coach had a military influence," said Paul Waszak, a tight end on Reichow's undefeated 1972 team, who for many years regularly traveled from the Chicago area to visit Reichow, along with '72 teammates Mike Castillo and Greg Derbak. "He liked short hair and well-groomed athletes. Coach would sometimes bust the chops of the guys who let their hair go to the extreme. I happened to be one of those guys."

Reichow liked to start the season with a movie featuring Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who inherited a losing team and quickly turned it around, winning five NFL championships during the 1960s.

Reichow could relate. In the 12 seasons before he took over as head football coach, Monmouth won just 17 games. He quickly got to work changing that losing atmosphere.

"Monmouth College had been a doormat for a decade," said Rod Davies, an all-conference lineman for the Scots who grew up in Monmouth and is now mayor of the city. "Coach had to change that culture, and he sure got it changed. You started to see that red station wagon down at the fieldhouse day and night. You knew he was working at it. Monmouth was starting to improve, and we benefited from those teams that came before us."

In a 2022 interview celebrating the 50th anniversary of his undefeated 9-0 team, Reichow recalled: "You have to have the horses to run the race. We were fortunate in that respect. You've got to get the talent and they've got to work at it. Talent is part of the formula. I had a lot of help in the high schools in two states (Iowa and Illinois) to pinpoint material and guide it in our direction."

Although the 1972 football team did not lose a regular-season game, it did not receive a bid to the Stagg Bowl, then the NCAA College Division championship game. The NCAA DIII football playoffs started the following season.

In a seven-year span from 1968-74, Reichow's football teams lost just eight times - an .852 winning percentage. In all, the Scots went 78-31-2 (.712) from 1966-78.

Reichow's wrestling teams finished in the conference's top three in six of his first eight seasons, including the 1972-73 team, which finished second. In all, his teams went 87-53-4 in dual meets, and he coached 10 national qualifiers.

'Thanks, Coach'

Members of the 1972 team and other squads gathered in 2019 to celebrate Reichow's 90th birthday. "Happy 90th, Coach, from the men you made," read the icing on the cake.

"It brings tears to my eyes, and that doesn't happen very often," said Reichow at the well-attended event. "We had some great days together in the past, and this is a great day right now."

At the College's Homecoming in 2022, former players had one more chance to show their appreciation for Reichow, gathering for an event celebrating the 1972 team, which was good enough to be one of four teams considered to play in that year's national championship game.

In addition to his career in Albia, Iowa, and at Monmouth College, Reichow was also an independent Dekalb Seed dealer and chairman of the Warren County Board for many years. He is survived by his wife, Marcia, of 68 years and by three daughters. One daughter preceded him in death.

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